ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Classicism in Literature, Art and Architecture, Music

Updated on April 27, 2013


The classical revival in literature was led by 14th- and 15th-century Renaissance Italian humanists, such as Petrarch, who collected classical manuscripts, and the Platonist scholar Ficino, who translated and interpreted Greek philosophy. English humanists, such as Ben Jonson, Francis Bacon, Dryden, and Pope, wrote in a classical style, as did the 17th-century French playwrights Molière, Corneille, and Racine. Later, classicism deeply influenced the 18th-century German dramatists Goethe and Schiller.

In the late 17th century, however, war raged between the "ancients" and the "moderns," a conflict continued in the 18th century by Friedrich von Schlegel, who defended classicism as an attempt to express the infinite in finite forms, and Mme de Staël, who rejected classicism as sterile, rule bound, and restrictive. Gradually, the more emotional, subjective Romantic movement triumphed over classicism in the 19th century, but in the 20th century a reaction against Romanticism by writers such as Rémy de Gourmont, Ezra Pound, and T. S. Eliot resulted in a partial return to themes and attitudes of classical writers.


Art and Architecture

Renaissance classicism in art and architecture originated in 13th-century Italy with masters such as the painter Giotto and the sculptor Nicola Pisano, who broke away from Gothic symbolism to study the human form in the classic tradition. Classicism was further expressed in the paintings of Mantegna, Piero della Francesca, and Raphael, and in the sculpture of Michelangelo. The buildings of Brunelleschi, who sought the ancient principles behind architectural design, and the detailed architectural drawings of Palladio also had a deep influence.

In the 17th century neoclassicism swept Europe, guided by Boileau's theories. The movement received added momentum and a scientific basis in the 18th century with the excavations of ancient sites such as Pompeii and Herculaneum, and with the writings of the German scholar J. J. Winckelmann, who saw the perfect expression of form in Greek art and architecture. Neoclassicism culminated in the Empire style of Napoleon, who tried to re-create his own "Roman Empire."

The neoclassical spirit in art was reflected in the sculpture of Canova, and in the paintings of Poussin, who set the academic style; of David, the court painter of Louis XVI and Napoleon; and of Ingres, opponent of the Romantic painter Delacroix. Neoclassical architecture was dominated by the palace of Versailles, built partly by Louis Le Vau, and by the great English houses and churches of Inigo Jones, Christopher Wren, and the Adam brothers. Many American public buildings and antebellum mansions copied first Roman and then Greek styles. Outstanding examples are the Virginia state capitol, designed by Jefferson, and the Bank of Pennsylvania by B. H. Latrobe. In the 20th century, art and architecture regained some of the classic sense of form through the late paintings of Cézanne, cubism, and the work of architects such as Mies van der Rohe and, later, Michael Graves, Aldo Rossi, and Robert Venturi.


In music, the term classical is loosely applied to all compositions that are not "popular." More precisely it refers to music composed in certain genres that have established criteria of form, such as symphonies, concerti, sonatas, and fugues. In the strictest sense it refers to the music composed between 1750 and 1820, particularly the masterworks of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. This music is characterized by objectivity, emotional restraint, simplicity, and consciously balanced form. In the 20th century a neoclassical movement developed as a reaction to Romanticism and an alternate to atonalism. Old forms were revived, and there was a tendency toward an objective style. The movement's leaders were Prokofiev—notably in his Classical Symphony (1916–1917)—Stravinsky, and Bartók.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)